Chase Strumpf – Picture by Micah Manuel/Tennessee Smokies

Today was an extremely busy day for me. Between teaching seven periods of junior high students, coming home to mow the backyard, fixing supper for two humans and five dogs, and then having a North Side bound meeting, I had little time to think about playoff baseball. I would get to it when I got to it.

Just before supper, I did see that Michael McAvene and Riley Martin were both promoted to Tennessee to help bolster the bullpen. To make room, Peyton Remy and Kyle Johnson were set to Iowa. That move strengthens the bullpen for the Smokies quite a bit for the playoffs. But it would all be for moot if the Smokies lost tonight‘s game to Rocket City.

Things started out really well for the Smokies as a starter Ben Brown struck out five in the first two innings. Then, in the top of the third, a Yonathan Perlaza double brought in Zack Davis who had walked and then stolen second and third with no out. That put the Smokies up one to nothing. That lead did not last for long when Zach Neto of Rocket City cranked one into the night off of Brown to make it 2-1. Brown rebounded by getting strikeout #6 to end the threat.

In the fourth inning, Rocket City took the lead as they ran Brown from the game. Thanks to Bailey Horn, the Trash Pandas were only able to manage just one run and leave the bases loaded. A couple innings later, the Smokies began the top of the sixth with a little help from an error by Kevin Maitan. Cole Roederer singled and then Chase Strumpf brought everybody in on a home run deep to left-centerfield to make it 4-2 Smokies. 

Bailey Horn came back out in the bottom of the inning and proceeded to walk the first batter. Horn proceeded to strike out the side. In the seventh-inning, Blake Whitney came in and struck out every single batter that he faced and looked pretty vicious doing it.

And this is really what I’ve been saying all along that Tennessee is only going to go as far as their bullpen would take them.

Whitney got two flyouts and a grounder in the bottom of the eighth to send it to the ninth.

Closer Zac Leigh got a groundout to begin the ninth. Then he sat down top 10 Angels’ prospect Jordyn Adams on strikes. However, Jeremiah Jackson soon doubled to keep the game alive and bring up Bryce Teodosio. A nice flyout to right tied up the series at 1 game apiece and set up a winner-take-all tomorrow night!

It is a little unclear who the starting pitcher is going to be tomorrow. It could be Chris Clarke, it could be someone else. I hear Daniel Palencia is available.

I will be back in the morning with a look at some relievers who could move quickly in 2023.